Opposition leaders in Sudan, outraged by Monday’s attacks on protesters they say left more than 30 dead, have called for an “all-out political strike and civil disobedience” as they cut off negotiations with the country’s Transitional Military Council (TMC).
The Forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change issued a statement decrying “a day of massacre on civilians” they say was perpetrated by both the Sudanese military and Rapid Support Forces militia members, in addition to other security forces in Khartoum and other cities and towns.
The first forces arrived in about 100 trucks just before 5 a.m., beginning the early-morning attack in the capital as protesters remained in a sit-in area near military headquarters, they said. The site was established weeks ago, amid the ongoing demands for democratic change that began in December and led to the ouster of former president Omar al-Bashir.
Talks between the DFC and allied organizations, and the TMC, broke down after the military leaders refused a deal that would allow civilians to hold a majority in a transitional government meant to lead to national elections. They now plan to move forward unilaterally.
The violence against civilians has escalated since a two-day national strike last week.
“They started attacking protesters with sticks and bullets, and minutes later they started firing large quantities of stun grenades and live bullets at the picket square,” the Sudanese Professionals Association said in its statement.
Witnesses reported heavy gunfire, with social media images documenting the attack prior to cutoff of Internet services and related platforms. Some images showed the protest site on fire. In addition to the fatalities, hundreds more are reported to be injured.
The United Nations, African Union and some foreign governments were quick to condemn the developments. The UN noted its concern that doctors and hospital were under attack as they sought to care for the wounded, with some reports of gunfire inside the facilities.
UN Secretary General António Guterres urged all parties to pursue peaceful dialogue and return to negotiations that support a civilian-led transition, which is the position of the AU. Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat of the AU also condemned the violence in a statement that reminded all parties of the AU’s decision in April to demand the military step aside or risk Sudan’s suspension in the AU.
At the same time, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are believed to be advising Sudanese military leaders and urging them to crack down on the protest movement.
Image: Sudan Change Now file